Kyoto University is teaming up with a Japanese forestry company, Sumitomo Forestry, to develop a wooden satellite to send into orbit.
The idea is that a device made of wood could safely burn up on reentry and reduce the amount of space junk.
Space junk is increasingly a concern among experts, who say it poses an environmental hazard.
Kyoto University is teaming up with a Japanese forestry company to develop wooden satellites to shoot into orbit by 2023 in an effort to cut down on space junk, the BBC reported on Monday.
Takao Doi, a Kyoto University professor and Japanese astronaut, told the BBC that the advantage of a wooden satellite is that if it were to fall out of orbit and burn up on reentry, it wouldn't release as many harmful particles as metal satellites.
"We are very concerned with the fact that all the satellites which re-enter the Earth's atmosphere burn and create tiny alumina particles which will float in the upper atmosphere for many years," Doi said.
Doi added that "eventually it will affect the environment of the Earth."
Kyoto University and Sumitomo Forestry plan to experiment with how well different types of wood withstand extreme conditions on Earth, aiming to develop a wood that could take wild fluctuations in temperature and sunlight.
Space junk and debris are growing concerns among experts.
"Space debris is increasingly of concern, and the collision of two massive space-debris objects - ranging from one to 10 metric tons - pose the greatest environmental risk," Daniel Oltrogge, the director of the Center for Space Standards and Innovation, told Business Insider last month.
Though estimates vary, Oltrogge said the CSSI believes there are about 760,000 objects larger than a centimeter in orbit.
That number is ever increasing, especially as commercial companies launch their own constellations of satellites. Elon Musk's SpaceX has launched almost 900 Starlink high-speed-internet satellites, with plans to eventually launch 12,000 to 42,000.
Amazon is leading a similar project called Project Kuiper. It won approval from the Federal Communications Commission in July to launch 3,236 satellites.
Read the original article on Business Insider